Frequently asked questions
What areas do your books cover?
Our first book, which is still available, "4x4 Routes of Western Montana" has routes based out of Missoula. Our second book, also still available, "4x4 Routes of Southwestern Montana" has routes based out of Dillon, Jackson and Melrose. Our third and newest book "4x4 Routes of Southcentral Montana" has routes based out of Cooke City, Emigrant, Independence, McAllister, Sheridan Silver Star, and Twin Bridges.
What are the names of starting places?
For our first book: "4x4 Routes of Western Montana" - Anaconda, Boulder, Darby, Deer Lodge, Drummond, Lakeside, Maxville, Missoula, Philipsburg, and Rock Creek in Montana, as well as Elk City, Idaho.
For our second book: "4x4 Routes of Southwestern Montana" - Dillon, Jackson and Melrose, including Argenta, Burma Road, Hecla (Greenwood, Lion and Trapper City), and Rochester.
For our third book: "4x4 Routes of Southcentral Montana" - Cooke City, Emigrant, Big Timber, McAllister, Sheridan, Silver Star, and Twin Bridges.
How long are the routes?
In our first book: "4x4 Routes of Western Montana" Much depends on your vehicle, driving speed, and how much you explore certain areas. Generally speaking, leaving from the Missoula area all these routes can be completed in a 6 to 12 hour day, except for the Magruder Corridor. Some of the Boulder area routes may take longer due to the pavement driving time to reach them.
In our second book: "4x4 Routes of Southwestern Montana" Again, leaving from the main cities covered (Dillon, Jackson and Melrose) all the routes can be completed in a 6 to 12 hour day.
How hard are the trips?
Generally 4x4 routes are classified from a 1 to 5 (with 5 being the hardest). There are no Class 5 routes in our books.
Some routes may only have short sections with Class 3 or 4 ratings. Often, there is a bypass available. There are several routes in 4x4 Routes of Southcentral Montana that definitely are a Class 4 due to the steepness of the trail, while others in all of the books have some that have a short section of Class 4. However, keep in mind that trails do change year to year depending on weather and usage. We do try update the information as needed.
All the routes are intended to be an enjoyable experience for the whole family. BE SURE to get out and check a trail before proceeding if you have any doubt at all. Generally speaking, the farther out you get on a trail, the worse it will be.
Do I need any special equipment?
No, just a dependable four wheel drive vehicle with a low range transfer case. Be sure to read the complete description of a route to decide if your vehicle or your driving ability is up to the task. The route classification is listed in the Contents as well as at the beginning of each route.
Traveling with another vehicle is always comforting, but we have run almost every one of these routes by ourselves. However, we carry many extra parts and supplies and are prepared to spend the night if necessary.
We highly recommend you carry a chain saw or at least a large bow saw, as you’ll often find fallen trees across the trails.
Another essential is bug spray, as there may be hordes of mosquitoes at times.
Cell phone service is kind of a hit and miss situation, so don’t rely on it. We carry an online satellite type device that can send texts or a SOS.
We recommend that you do carry a paper map and compass rather than just depending on your GPS device. Each of the books specifies what Forest Service map covers the area.
When is the best time of year to do these routes?
It’s not uncommon to have snow fall in every month of the year in Montana’s high country. Generally speaking, most of the routes are not completely accessible until July 1 or later, depending on snow pack. Most years they are inaccessible sometimes beginning in October, definitely by November, depending upon elevation.
We think July is the best month as everything is still green and the wildflowers are in bloom.
Expect thunderstorms in the latter part of August and into September. Be weather aware and check the forecast in advance of your trip. An easy way to do this is to check:
http://forecast.weather.gov/zipcity.php and enter the city or zip code you will be closest to, then click on the map to a specific area.
Do your books include history of the areas traveled?
Yes, they do. We spent a considerable amount of time researching history of the towns and mines along the routes.
Are there lakes where I can fish?
There sure are, as the routes in all the books visit a multitude of lakes. We’ve included such information as the lake’s size in acres, water depth, elevation and most important of all, the types of fish to be caught. Just be sure to buy a fishing license from any of the sporting goods stores. Out of state visitors can buy a two or ten day non-resident fishing license. Be sure to pick up a fishing regulations book at the same time as there are diverse regulations for different areas. Take a look at http://fwp.mt.gov/fishing/regulations/default.html for more information.
Do you have favorite trails?
Not really, it all depends on what you’re looking for in the way of a challenge or a scenic trip. Please call us at 406-825-4126 if you have any questions. Our now favorite quote from deceased marathon runner Bob Hayes of Evaro, MT: “My favorite? It has to be the next one!”
Do I need to worry about bears, mountain lions, and rattlesnakes?
Yes, there are bears and mountain lions. Please follow US Forest Service guidelines as to camping and food storage—it’s the law!
Keep your eyes on your children and pets at all times.
Most likely you will never see a mountain lion as they are quite reclusive. Consider yourself fortunate if you do see one, as they are magnificent creatures. The recommended procedure if you should encounter a mountain lion at close quarters is to make yourself as large as possible, yell and scream and act threatening, and pick up small children.
With bears, it’s just the opposite: if you can, quietly back away and speak in a non threatening low voice. Don’t turn and RUN! Most likely the bear will be more afraid of you then you are of it, unless it has cubs. Never get between a she bear and her cubs, as she'll be very protective. Be sure to carry bear spray and know how to use it. If a bear charges, generally it’s just a bluff, so don’t use the spray until the bear is within about ten feet of you. Yep, that's close!! AND really scary!
The chances of you encountering a rattlesnake are very rare, but do be watchful around old buildings, mining remains, and rocks. Contrary to popular myth, rattlesnakes do not always rattle before they strike nor do they always inject venom. If you should get bit, your best option is to leave the bite alone and immediately seek emergency treatment.
Are all the routes legal?
Yes, as of printing time. Please keep in mind that certain routes may be temporarily closed due to fires, logging operations, or wildlife management. In some of the areas covered by the routes there are time period closures, for example September 1 through December 2.
Remember to check with the closest Forest Service or BLM office for the most up to date information.
We do include changes and closures when we re-print a new edition of each book. We also list these on our website and face book page.
If you should find something that has changed, do be sure to bring it to our attention.
Do your books have area maps?
In our first book: "4x4 Routes of Western Montana" - No, because they would be such a small scale we don’t think they would be practical, plus it would dramatically raise the price of the book.
We do recommend that you purchase a map of the Beaverhead/Deer Lodge National Forest: North section. These are available from the National Forest store at http://www.fs.fed.us/recreation/nationalforeststore/, from local Forest Service offices, or from most sporting goods stores in Missoula, MT.
Another great resource is 4x4trailmaps.com. All but two of the routes are on the above map.
The Blacktail/Wild Bill route is on the Flathead National Forest website http://www.fs.usda.gov/flathead while the Magrudre Corridor route is on the Nez Perce National Forest https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/nezperceclearwater/home.There is also an excellent brochure on the Magruder Corridor that is available through the Nez Perce National Forest. You can view it here.
In our second book: "4x4 Routes of Southwestern Montana" - Yes, and they are small scale, and not really all that great...we'd like to hear your opinion on including these.
We do recommend that you purchase maps of the Beaverhead/Deer Lodge National Forest: Central and the South sections. The maps are available as above.
For our third book: "4x4 Routes of Southcentral Montana" we did not include maps, due to their small scale.
We do recommend that you purchase a Gallatin National Forest Central map, as well as a Beaverhead/Deer Lodge Central Map.
The paper copies of the Forest Service free motor vehicle use maps are next to useless in figuring out where you are, but the online versions are great. Some of these can be downloaded from the USFS district site for the area, or through the Avenza web site at avenzamaps.com for your iOS, Android, and Windows smart phones or tablets.
It is up to you to decide which off road map program you would like to use. We currently use BackCountry Navigator. We have heard good things about the new Onx off road app. Other friends use Gaia.
What are the various off road and 4x4 clubs in Montana?
Listing of Montana Off-Road & 4x4 Clubs, thanks to Richard Hiltz of
Montana Overland & 4x4 Adventures·Friday, August 11, 2017
Cascade County 4 Wheelers a 4x4 Club https://www.facebook.com/groups/180129495357107/
C'MON 4X4 CLUB https://www.facebook.com/groups/1668904380056969/
NO LONGER ACTIVE: Beaverhead Backcountry Pioneers
Southwestern Montana 4x4s and Hot Rods: https://www.facebook.com.search/top/q/=southwestern%montana%204x4%27s@20and%20hot%20rods%&epa=searchbox
Big Sky 4 Wheelers https://www.facebook.com/Big-Sky-4-Wheelers-165148236890316/
Flathead wheelers https://www.facebook.com/Flatheadwheelers/
Bozeman Mountaineers 4x4 Club https://www.facebook.com/bozeman.mountaineers/
Trail Riders Anonymous https://www.facebook.com/TrailRidersAnonymous/
406 Cruisers (a Toyota Club) 406 Cruisers is the ONLY brand specific club in this list. https://www.facebook.com/406cruisers/
Frontier 4 Wheelers - a 4x4 Club https://www.facebook.com/Frontier4Wheelers/Montana Overland & 4x4 Adventures
Magic City 4x4 https://www.facebook.com/groups/102015127323/
Rimrock 4X4 INC https://www.facebook.com/groups/Rimrock4X4/
Montana Back Roads 4x4 Club https://www.facebook.com/groups/1693893287557467/
AND one in Wyoming:
Where can I rent a 4x4 vehicle near Missoula?
Alamo 406-543-0926 406-549-3355 200 West Broadway, Missoula
Dollar 406-542-2311 1905 W Broadway https://www.dollar.com/loc/ll/US/MT/Missoula/1905-West-Broadway
Enterprise 406-721-1888 2188 W Broadway
National 406-549-3355 2000 West Broadway
Rent a Wreck 406-721-3838 1905 W Broadway Street http://www.rentawreck.com/
Thrifty 406-549-2277 3309 W Broadway
Or through Kayak.com
Or rentalcars.com both of these sites will do comparisons
BOZEMAN: Alex Nelson of Rockymountainexpeditions.com rents Jeeps
Does Montana require off highway vehicle permits?
Yes, for anything similar to a quad or side by side, even tho they may be street legal with a license plate. Montana requires an ohv to be registered by the country treasurer's office in the county where the owner resides. This is a one time registration until the vehicle sells.
Can I take my dog on the trails?
Are there other places where I can buy your books?
Yes, they are available many other places, including WalMart and Town Pump.
Adventure Cycle, Dillon 683-2205
Big Sky Off Road, Billings 652-5722
Books and Books, Butte 782-9520
The Book Exchange, Missoula 728-6342
Blue Ribbon Auto, Missoula 543-0387
The Book Store, Dillon 683-6807
Fact and Fiction, Missoula 721-2881
J & K Customs 541-2119
Montana Auto and Fab, Helena 459-4847
Montana Book Company, Helena 465-1939
Mount Helena Motor Sports, Helena 443-7373
Murdochs, Missoula 549-2355
Mountain West Coop-Cenex, North Reserve, Missoula 543-8383
Poet Motorcycles, Helena 457-8230
Second Edition Books, Butte 723-5108
Sportsman Motel, Melrose 835-2141